First published February 27, 2017
Spider veins. I have them. I despise them.
So much so, that over 10 years ago I had several skin laser sessions done. And just 2 years ago, I had two sclerotherapy sessions. All this to no avail.
I am like many of you. Wanting that quick fix to rid of hideous spider veins. However, in order to truly address vein health, you have to get to the root of the problem or the problem will continue to persist. That is exactly why my previous vein treatments did not work. They only focused on the surface.
So what’s the right way to approach painful, unsightly veins? I highly recommend scheduling a consultation with Charlotte Radiology Vein Centers like I did. You will gain a full understanding of your particular vein situation and how to address it. And education is key.
Vein health is important to understand. Whether you have varicose veins or spider veins — right of passage or not — they are a drag. They can cause aching or cramping in the legs. The affected areas may throb, burn, tingle or feel heavy. Severely inflamed veins can be tender to the touch and may reduce circulation.
Varicose veins are the bulging, bluish cords running just beneath the surface of your skin. They almost always affect legs and feet. Spider veins are small, twisted blood vessels that are visible through the skin. They may be red, purple or blue and most often appear on the legs or face. They take their name from their striking spiderweb pattern.
How does this happen in the first place? Healthy veins carry blood to the heart through a series of one-way valves. These valves allow blood to flow in the right direction from superficial veins to deeper veins and to the heart. The vessels are surrounded by muscles which contract and help pump blood to the heart. Normally, the veins have a one-way valve to prevent backflow. However, problems with the valves, muscles or blood itself can allow blood to pool inside the vein. As blood pools within the vein, pressure builds and the vessel wall weakens. As a result, the vein tends to bulge and twist. Depending on the size of the blood vessel and extent of swelling, the result is a spider vein or varicose vein.
What an eye-opening experience it has been consulting with Charlotte Radiology. The staff is absolutely wonderful — a happy group of professionals that make you feel at home. They do an excellent job of explaining what they see and how that relates to your symptoms, in addition to treatment options. It was definitely the right path to go down. Everything I learned made sense, too. Especially why the aforementioned treatments never worked.
After my consultation, an ultrasound was scheduled and performed. It was determined that 5 veins (3 in one leg, 2 in the other) are affected, and the cause for one of my hot spots — a bruise-looking clump of spider veins at the back side of my knee that I’ve had since 7th grade. My previous treatments never worked because the feeder vein is the culprit. Oh, how I wish I would’ve known this years ago!
My treatment will consist of compression stockings (before and after treatments), endovenous laser treatment (EVLT) and, once the veins are properly treated, sclerotherapy. Endovenous Laser Treatment is a quick, minimally invasive laser procedure for patients that has shown a 98% success rate. EVLT uses laser energy delivered in a thin fiber-optic probe to treat the underlying cause of the affected veins. Essentially, the laser goes inside your vein to eradicate the problem.
As I begin my journey to healthy veins and healthy legs, I am relieved to know that I am headed in the right direction. The freedom to wear shorts is finally in sight!